South Otago Museum curator Gary Ross with a rudder which may be related to an old anchor which was found off the Nuggets earlier this month. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A mystery anchor discovered off the Otago coast this month
has dredged up international interest.
The barnacle-encrusted iron anchor was caught on October 7 by
Taieri Mouth fisherman Karl Maley on the Ladyann at Hayes
Gap, off the Nuggets.
The find had excited international maritime archaeologists
since it was revealed in the Otago Daily Times, South
Otago Museum curator Gary Ross said this week.
''The ODT article really put the flag up. Aima (the
Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology) is
particularly interested in the anchor.''
It was hoped it could be related to a rudder at the museum,
which was discovered in 2007.
''There are no recorded wrecks at Hayes Gap. The only
connection between the anchor and the rudder, at this stage,
is the area they were found in.
"A 5km difference, in shipwreck terms, is quite feasible.
Shipwrecks will move quite some distance and drop bits and
bobs everywhere,'' Mr Ross said.
''If it leads to anyone identifying our rudder then it's a
huge success. There's a 50% chance the rudder is from the
Taiaroa, which was the first steamer built in Dunedin
and struck the reef in 1871.
''The Margaret Casey also hit rocks there [in 1904]
and ripped its rudder clean off the pintels, which has also
happened to our rudder.
''Another possibility is the Mary Van Every, which
sank in 1874. It was being towed across the reef by the
Lady of the Lake, but the rope snapped and the Mary
Van Every went back on the reef and was destroyed.''
The Lady of the Lake also sank in the same area the
following year, 1875.
''We're trying to identify the timbers and working on
measurements and scale. Without a hallmark you have to look
at the materials used and scale,'' Mr Ross said.
The South Otago Museum has a similar anchor, from the first
recorded wreck off the Catlins coast, of the Henry
Freelingon on November 12, 1839.
The latest anchor find was ''very interesting'' New Zealand
Historic Places Trust Otago-Southland regional archaeologist
Matt Schmidt said on Thursday.
''It's a 19th-century-style anchor, for sure. We'll preserve
it by putting it into a fresh water tank, connecting anodes
and gradually stabilising the iron,'' Dr Schmidt said.
''We're working with marine archaeologists at the moment to
Other wrecks recorded near the mouth of the Clutha River are
Endeavour (1857), Ada, Pioneer and Ann
Jane (1861), South Australia (1867), Tuapeka
(1874) and Lloyd's Herald (1878).